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What Makes A Good Community?

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  • What Makes A Good Community?

    (apart from vBulletin)

    Ok, not talking about tools or scripts, but rather elements:

    What do you think makes your community special (if you consider it to be special (you will, eventually, I hope!)), and what in general makes a community a success, regardless of size?

    Are you interested in fostering a community, or are your forums just another part of your site?

    I'm bit of a fan of communities, so please indulge me

  • #2
    I think the communites are made when there is alot of interest on a focused topic. My roleplaying-game site did horrible because there were already enough sites on roleplaying-game and they just didn't foster interest. Coderforums, hoewever, is doing much better and is starting to blossom as a community. So I think they need a unique topic and some interested and mature folks who agree on your subject matter


    • #3
      Good question.

      Not sure I know the answer. I just started my community about 3 weeks ago. I have 27 members and about 1600 posts. I have tried several configurations trying to incorporate interesting topics into the forum.

      I try to keep it friendly, and encourage fun and interesting posts.

      What makes a forum a success is its members. If you have creative interesting members your forum will attract more creative and interesting people.

      I would be happy with 100 members where 75 or more posted regularly than 300 members were only 20 or so members post.

      I'm determined to do what it takes to make my community a success it will just take time.


      Looking for creative and interesting members

      Please apply by clicking on my weblink button

      Thanks in advance


      • #4
        myth about content

        Will everyone who believes that online users are brain-dead, slack-jawed morons please raise their hand?

        Will everyone who has ever passed on one of the following platitudes please raise their hand: a) users don't scroll, b) users don't click, c) users are all the same – I know because I've met them all and talked with them extensively.

        Will everyone. Who thinks that. Users will only. Read small sentences. On the web. Please. Raise. Their. Hand?

        And will everyone – I've saved this one for last since it's the most insidious – who thinks that it's hard to read on a computer please raise their hand?

        Okay, class. Look around. Meet your enemy.

        I go to web conferences. Usually it's because I'm there to speak about web design. And if you've read my book or heard me talk, you know that, in part, my rap is all about content. How to use content to foster community. And content usually means words. Text. Reading.

        Now, usually, these conferences I attend also feature a talk on "Writing for the Web." And, usually, this talk is perpetuated by some Jakob Nielsen wannabe in a suit, prattling off every wrongheaded myth about the web there is.

        Users don't read. Users don't scroll. Users need small words, small sentences, bullet lists, anchor links, pats on the head, and milk and cookies before bedtime.

        Each of these panels I attend leaves another small, burning hole in my stomach. They frustrate me because I'm someone who puts lots of words on the web and I know they get read. I have email to prove it.

        And I know because these wrongheaded speakers are standing in front of a room of people who read and write all day, every day, on computers!

        Hasn't anyone else noticed the irony of standing in front of a room of webheads saying people don't read online? If no one reads online, and they don't scroll, and they don't click, what exactly do they do?

        I mean, what are you doing, reading this, right now? Don't you have some not-clicking, not-scrolling, not-reading to do?

        If you don't believe me, believe this: The number one use of the internet is email. This is proved in study after study. The Pew Internet Project has found that, of the 111 million Americans that have gone online, 95 percent said that they've sent email. 54 percent said they do it daily. Now, if it's so hard to read on a computer, why is reading and writing text the number one thing that happens online?

        I know that, when studied en masse, users can appear pretty stupid. We've all heard the stories about the guy who couldn't find the "any key," and the guy who broke his computer's "cup holder." I worked in tech support at a college for a summer, teaching art professors how to check email. There were people who could make magic on canvass and couldn't even figure out how to use a one-button mouse.

        But how long must we infantilize the very people we're building sites for? Why must we make these blanket judgements about the way all users read, based on the dimmest bulbs in the pack? Can we not acknowledge that the web is now a pretty big place, and generalizing about user behavior is sketchy at best? Why not just talk about each site's particular audience? Where is the room to say, if I treat my readers like adults, perhaps they're more likely to act like adults?

        See, I have a different perspective than most content people. For sites with public feedback mechanisms (like this one), I advise clients to treat every piece of content as the beginning of a conversation with the community. When you look at content that way, it makes sense to raise the bar a bit. After all, if I've learned one lesson in web community, it's this: The tone you set in your content will be echoed back by the community, amplified louder with each comment. Start the conversation off with great writing – writing that would be great in any medium, writing that might even require your readers to think for more than a passing moment – and give your readers a way to discuss it amongst themselves, and you'll get great, thoughtful writing back.

        But kick off the conversation with "See Spot run. Run, Spot, run." and you'll get exactly what you invited.

        If web writers and content managers could stop coddling their readers for a moment and challenge, engage, and interact with them instead, maybe people might just start scrolling, clicking, and, yes, reading their content.

        After all, if you stand in front of a room and tell everyone that no one reads what you write online, maybe the problem isn't with the users or the medium. Maybe you're just not saying anything interesting.


        • #5

          Anyone mention that your forums at are a copy of Corie's YAXAY jgrillone? Style by Banishedfaith design?

          People willing to share "original" ideas without sharing attitudes. Simple.... But effective is my idea of what makes a good community. The word being "Originality".


          • #6
            While presentation can win you a vBulletin award, content can win you regular visitors (at the least).

            As my site evolves, and it is evolving, I anticipate that some people will find my content useful. Mine is a niche category. I accept that many visitors will not know a lot about Fine Arts, and many might not care. So, my target audience is unique.

            I worked in tech support at a college for a summer, teaching art professors how to check email. There were people who could make magic on canvass and couldn't even figure out how to use a one-button mouse.
            Tell me about it, jgrillone

            These are the types of people I hope to cater to. Those who really want an online presence but don't have the wherewithal to put together an online portfolio. They are extremely intelligent, even though they collectively live a Luddite-like existence.

            If a non-FA trained person has a question, I can answer it. If not, I someday hope to have regular board members who can. In the meantime, I'll keep my community running, and continue to scratch out essays and tutorials whenever I can. As my education grows, so too does the content of my site.

            my answer to the original queston is that my site offers (or will soon offer)

            1. Artist moderated Fine Art Galleries (with an option to sell items)
            2. Articles on Modern Art Movements
            3. Arts Education related News
            4. Tutorials on Fine Art disciplines
            5. Support for starting Fine Artists


            • #7
              Re: What Makes A Good Community?

              Originally posted by MarkB
              (apart from vBulletin)

              Ok, not talking about tools or scripts, but rather elements:

              What do you think makes your community special (if you consider it to be special (you will, eventually, I hope!)), and what in general makes a community a success, regardless of size?

              Are you interested in fostering a community, or are your forums just another part of your site?

              I'm bit of a fan of communities, so please indulge me
              For our site, the forum constitue the community building part. Its the core component of our site.

              To foster a community , ii think we need some thing the members can get bond to .. Be it the topics, be it the Moderators...
     (BETA) -


              • #8
                Content is 'King' on my site. Simply put we are the largest community of eyecare professionals on the web because of the vast amount of information on my site. There is simply no other site in the world that can match us for content. And out of this content comes a sense of community resulting in new friendships and relationships.

                I just attended a conference in NY and 19 of my OptiBoard Members attended a get-together. This was the very first time that many of them had ever met another OptiBoarder in person. During the conference I met with another 25 people who are regulars on my site and who couldn't make the meeting. It's really neat to finally meet your members in person!
                Steve Machol, former vBulletin Customer Support Manager (and NOT retired!)
                Change CKEditor Colors to Match Style (for 4.1.4 and above)

                Steve Machol Photography

                Mankind is the only creature smart enough to know its own history, and dumb enough to ignore it.


                • #9
                  members that post always helps
                  Jason Miller


                  • #10
                    Our community is very straightforward. Since our site is primarily concentrated on technical support and information, it's a lot more tricky to get return visitors, since most people just ask a question and then leave forever once their question has been answered.

                    But there are still those who like what they see, and keep coming back. Our content has mainly been the free help we give (in addition to the daily tech news). We have always been concerned with quality, not quantity. In my eyes, 10 return visitors who actively take part in our discussions and try to help out people is worth much more than 100 people who just search the forums for an answer to their questions.

                    Our community provides most of the site's content, and that content in turn draws more people into our community. A nice and healthy symbiosis...
                    OPEN TECH SUPPORT
                    "Tech is our middle name!"


                    • #11
                      Thanks for the replies, everyone Nice to see people putting consideration into their communities rather than just throwing a forum onto their site and hoping it sticks


                      • #12
                        The online community for the Dave Matthews Band is huge to begin with. There is already one huge DMB site,, that has even won 2 VH1 MyMusic awards for Best Fan Music Site. However, I felt that the site itself doesn't offer too much by way of content - it only won because it's been around the longest.

                        When I started work on with a few other talented people, our goal was to offer the DMB fan anything they could look for from a website devoted to the Dave Matthews Band. Coverart, backgrounds, fonts, lyrics, guitar tabs, a setlist archive that gives the users a friendly frontend for our database of every single show the band has ever played, as well as a function in the archive which makes it easy for our users to find other users with shows and trade with them (via the PM system). All of this on top of the message board, gives us a ton of users. Our site isn't even in the search engines yet, and we already have 5200+ members and the site has been open for about 10 weeks. All of our traffic has been via word of mouth. People discuss the setlist archive on our site, talk about trades, show gatherings, etc.

                        Of course, traffic is BOOMING nowadays, with the tour just beginning last week. Last night after the show in Boston, our board reached 497 currently online users.

                        Find something theres interest in, something you have a LOT of passion for, and do it better than everyone else out there. People will come.

                        [email protected]
                        Matthew Yette
                        [email protected]
               - People in every direction


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